As a veteran, you may have questions about what dental care options are available for you. The problem is that veteran dental care benefits can be quite confusing. It can be difficult to make heads or tails of what you qualify for.
As a dentist of two decades, and a veteran myself, I understand the frustration. I’ve worked with countless veterans and have helped them secure the dental care they deserve.
With this article, I hope to detail some of my experience with VA dental benefits and help you determine which types of benefits you may qualify for. And by the end, you’ll hopefully have a good understanding of the VA benefits offered to you, as well as non-VA options that can help if you don’t qualify.
What Type Of Care Does The VA Cover?
Unfortunately, there’s no easy answer to this question. It depends on which classes(s) you qualify for. The amount of care can vary from specific issues to all care needed. It’s difficult to generalize, but most classes cover dental care that deals with some sort of service-related issues and injuries. For more details, read on to learn about different classes.
Understanding the VA Dental Care Classes
One of the more confusing aspects of VA dental is the large number of classes that qualify you for treatment. Each one of these classes has slightly different requirements. Some limit the types of treatment you can receive. Understanding if and which class you fit into is key to understanding which dental benefits you are eligible for.
Below, you’ll find each class along with a brief explanation of who qualifies. Some of these are a bit hard to completely understand, so if you have any further questions don’t be afraid to reach out to your local VA office. They are there to help you and will be able to explain what benefits you might qualify for.
Class I: If you have a service-related compensable condition or disability then you are eligible for any dental care needed.
Class II: If you were discharged in any other condition than dishonorable, and you did not receive a dental examination upon discharge, then you are eligible to receive one-time care within 180 days.
Class IIA: A non-compensable condition (0%) that resulted from wounds in combat then you may be eligible to receive care to keep your mouth healthy. Per the February 2018 Dental Benefits for Veterans document IB 10-442, a VA Regional Office Rating Decision letter (VA Form 10-7131) or the historical Dental Trauma Rating (VA Form 10-564-D) identifies the tooth/teeth/condition(s) that are trauma related.
Class IIB: If you are a homeless veteran and receive care under VHA Directive 2007-039 then you may be eligible for care to relieve major pain, treat gum disease, or gain employment.
Class IIC: If you were a former prisoner of war then you are eligible to receive any dental care needed.
Class III: If you have a service-related condition that has been determined to be affected by dental issues then you are eligible to receive treatment of said dental issues. This determination is made by a VA dental professional.
Class IV: If you have a service-related condition that is rated as 100% (total) disabling then you are eligible for any dental care needed. This only applies to ratings of 100% that are permanent and not for short-term disabilities.
Class V: If you are currently participating in a VA vocational rehabilitation program under 38 U.S.C. Chapter 31 then you are eligible to receive dental care that helps you participate in and achieve the goals of said program.
Class VI: If you are receiving or scheduled to receive inpatient care and have dental issues that are determined to be complicating that treatment, then you qualify for treatment of those dental issues. Like above, this is determined by a VA dental professional.
What Are Other Options If I Don’t Qualify?
While there are a lot of ways to qualify for VA dental benefits, the truth is that not all veterans will qualify. It’s unfortunate, but luckily there other options available for veterans. Below are a couple of options that can help veterans afford dental treatment and get the right healthcare they need.
National VA Dental Insurance Program:
One very good option is the insurance offered through the National VA Dental Insurance Program. This is insurance, so it’s not free, but it comes at a reduced cost compared to other plans.
This program is specifically offered to veterans, so they understand the issues you’re facing and are looking to help make things easier on you. Check to see if it is available in your area as it is a great way to cut down on the cost of dental treatments.
It’s also possible to purchase dental insurance through 3rd party vendors. These are typically a bit more expensive than the VA dental insurance but can help cut down costs on unexpected procedures later.
You may also want to consider looking into Medicare benefits. These benefits can help pay for some dental procedures. Unfortunately, these benefits will not stack with any other VA benefits. Further, Medicare only covers a very select range of dental work.
Lastly, there are many dentists around the country that offer special discounts for veterans. This includes things like reduced cost operations or even free services such as cleanings and X-rays.
Many dentists will advertise these services, but it never hurts to inquire if a dentist in your area offers any discounts to veterans. The only downside here is that many of these services will likely be very local and specific to the individual dentist.
Lastly, there are many dentists around the country that offer special discounts for veterans. This includes things like reduced cost operations or even free services such as cleanings and X-rays. Many dentists will advertise these services, but it never hurts to inquire if a dentist in your area offers any discounts to veterans.
The only downside here is that many of these services will likely be very local and specific to the individual dentist. Some military-focused websites might also advertise these specials, so it doesn’t hurt to check them out.
You can also consider reaching out to local VA or other veterans groups to see if they know of any of these specials. They may have contacts with local dentists that offer these types of services to veterans.
With all the above in mind, hopefully, you’ve found a way that works for you to secure affordable dental care. If you’re ever in doubt, reaching out to your local VA is always a great option. They’ll be able to help you navigate the confusing class structures. They may also have additional information that will be useful to you. Work with them, and you may find that you can resolve your dental problems and restore your oral health.
You can find all of our articles on dentistry and oral health here: https://thedoctorweighsin.com/tag/dental-and-oral-health/
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Greg Grillo, DDS
Greg Grillo, DDS was born and raised in the Okanogan Valley in Washington state. Dr. Grillo spent eight years at the University of Washington and received a bachelor’s degree with honors before attending the School of Dentistry on the same campus.
He was selected for a Health Professions Scholarship by the United States Navy where he served as a dental officer for four years.
While in the navy, Dr. Grillo served tours in South Carolina and Japan, treating families of squadron military members and receiving advanced training in multiple areas of specialized dentistry. Since 1999, he has continued his practice in North Central Washington. His dedicated service and experience make him Dentably’s expert on dental care for veterans. He has a combined passion for dental marketing and incorporating new technologies into his work. Above all, Dr. Greg is committed to providing dental education and care for underserved communities.
Dr. Grillo has continued his practice in North Central Washington for more than 17 years, balancing his clinical practice with a role as the Content Director at a rapidly growing dental software company and freelance dental copywriting.
He especially enjoys caring for growing families in his practice and remains passionate about incorporating new technologies into his work that enhance the patient experience.
He continues to take numerous continuing education courses on all aspects of dentistry and is also involved in a variety of community activities in the Omak area outside of his work.
Dr. Grillo and his wife, Lisa, have 3 children and continue to live and work in the state of Washington. Outside the office, he can be found snow skiing, hiking, playing tennis, or just enjoying the outdoors.